D-Day for the A-League looms at the end of the current TV deal, in 2023.
We have reached this stage because of administration blunders by the FFA, an overreliance on TV money, and a lack of foresight to diversify revenue streams and improve the overall health of the game.
With this in mind, we come to one conclusion – any long-term plan to improve the game needs to be complemented with a short-term strategy to give the A-League a much-needed boost amid collapsing TV audiences and poor football.
Within this context, we must consider two significant blunders made by the club owners.
The first is the lack of promotion prior to the season’s kick off.
One justification made is that the league would be competing for advertising space given it’s the business end of the AFL and NRL seasons. Another is that the club owners have not yet assumed full control of the game.
The opportunity cost, however, is significant.
We will have just a few days to promote the league, which is not enough time for many people to factor it into their plans for the weekend or to make Foxtel take notice.
By not promoting the game, we are accepting our role as a second-rate sport.
There is no reason a smart, targeted preseason advertising campaign could not have results. Every day, smaller, more agile companies get cutthrough against the larger brands. Given the limited time frame, this preseason advertisement should have been non-negotiable.
The second major blunder was the recent announcement not to focus on marquees.
This makes no strategic sense. First of all, the marquee concept – which has been poorly used – is not the sole strategy for promoting the A-League.
It is a short-term plan to get bums on seats and eyeballs on the TV screens, so as to give the league a shot in the arm.
But the owners have somehow decided marquees are no longer a good idea. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
The rationale here is that they want to focus on youth, but this is linked with the quality on offer and a system that will take years to fix – which is time we do not have.
Marquees offer a quick fix. Didn’t the owners say they had cash to throw around now that they are in control?
So instead of throwing preseason promotion out and binning the marquee concept, why didn’t the owners unite strategies to give create cutthrough?
Bringing a new marque – remember the Alessandro Del Piero effect – would have generated attention and excitement, regardless of how crowded the sporting landscape is.
In addition, one wonders if the owners really intend on spending the money they have indicated on the league. The situation as of now is – at a time where we are fast running out of time – the A-League owners’ early missteps could prove costly for the game.
The momentum is negative, we are losing fans and we have just made our lives harder with two significant strategic blunders.